My hardest thing to battle is the cyclical thoughts about my anxiety, what can I do to help stop it?
Last Updated: 06/11/2019 at 11:34am
Trishna Monplaisir, LMSW
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
We are here to advocate, empower and provide compassion to individuals who need help.
Top Rated Answers
This is really hard, and I struggle with it too. What I've heard is that it is helpful to try to accept your thoughts. One analogy I've heard is this - imagine that your thoughts are floating down a river, and you are simply watching them pass by. You see them, and they do pass by you, but then they continue to float away. I know this is way easier said than done - believe me, I know. But from what I've heard from various people and articles, acceptance of one's anxious thoughts is key in overcoming them. Attempting to battle the thoughts will likely lead to more anxiety. I have heard that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness training can be very helpful with this type of thinking. If you haven't already you might want to check out the 7 Cups Mindfulness exercises page: https://www.7cups.com/exercises/mindfulness/
Make an anchor. That's what I did; I have a necklace that I mentally connected to my favourite song, and some comforting thoughts. I did that by touching/holding the necklace when I was listening to the song and thinking the thoughts, and now, whenever I touch it, my mind automatically recalls those memories and that song, which helps me through my anxiety attacks. I use my necklace, but it can be anything really, a piece of clothing, a specific food, an object like a pen, or a purse, or even a gesture. Believe me, I can tell you from personal experience, this works.
Tell your brain thinking about it is not helping so please STOP, the moment you think this you are breaking the patttern
Cyclical thoughts are the worst! What NOT to do is DIRECTLY address these thoughts and try to get rid of them. This just leads to nervous and obsessive thoughts like, "why can't I get rid of these thoughts?" What I did, which helped, is I chose to acknowledge these thoughts, and let them be. I said, "It's a thought, and it can't hurt me." Once I stopped being scared of my own thoughts and trying to avoid them, they went away! I really wish you the best. I know what it's like!
Read a book called "The Anxiety Disease." It is the best book I have ever read on anxiety and I have read a lot. It goes over all of the symptoms of anxiety disease in a very easy to understand manner. There is a helpful case study within. And, you will go away from this book after reading it with with a huge sigh of relief.
Remember that you can't control what thoughts appear in your head, but you can control if you develop those thoughts. If you're aware that you're having a negative thought, try to simply let it pass. Anxiety is caused by thinking ahead of the present moment.
the first step to deal with anxiety is to help yourself first. the change must start in you. the others who are willing to help will set as your guide.
I use a few apps for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that really help me identify those negative thought patterns, and learn how to stop them. Thought Diary, Pacifica, Mood Notes, and Worry Watch are all good, and Optimism is a great (and super comprehensive) app, too. (I am an iOS user)
What I do is to try and find something that will take my mind off of it, usually with music or spending time with my cat. I sometimes talk to my friend who makes me laugh and I feel better instantly
In my experience, what really helped me, is following the thought to its bitter end once you've noticed that you're in a thought cycle - if you escalate it to the very end it becomes apparent how ridiculous and unrealistic it is and that often helped me put a stop to the thoughts because they lost all their power. Good luck!
Anxiety is a difficult thing to deal with. But it is not impossible. Breath exercises can really help through anxiety. There is something about taking the time to focus on your breathing and nothing else that can be really calming. It can also help to write down exactly what you are feeling and why you think you are feeling it. It is important not to ignore your thoughts, because that could make them worse. Really take the time to reflect on them, write them down or talk about your thoughts with somebody you trust and feel comfortable with.
Try something new. When I put myself out there and focus on trying different things the anxiety is there, but it isn't the focus. Stepping outside of the normal day to day.
Recognize the thoughts assumptions and not facts nor absolute truths, and identify the ways in which they are distorted so you can correct them.
Sometimes, when I have cyclical thoughts, I try to engage on some activity where i have to be focused. (a jenga game works wonders to me). there are a lot of mechanisms we can use to get new ideas for new activities when the cyclical thoughts of anxiety strike in our minds and do not leave us alone . i like to search for some resources and ideas on pinterest , so i have some back up when that does happen . it is easier to me to have some safety net , some back up for more difficult times.
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